Pinwheels for Prevention Parade Raises Awareness of Child Abuse and Neglect
BCBSMT presents $10,000 donation to the Montana Children's Trust Fund
Montana's First Lady Lisa Bullock, Miss Montana Victoria Valentine, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana (BCBSMT) volunteers and mascot Blue Bear, and about 200 Jefferson School teachers and children paraded to the Capitol's front steps on Monday, April 13 in a sea of blue pinwheels to deliver one message: Child abuse and neglect must stop in Montana.
The event was co-sponsored by the Montana Children's Trust Fund (CTF) and BCBSMT and was being held in conjunction with various other National Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Month activities taking place statewide in April. Various child abuse and neglect prevention advocates also spoke in front of the Capitol and BCBSMT presented a $10,000 donation to the Montana Children's Trust Fund.
First Lady Bullock said Montana can lead the nation in reducing child abuse.
"In Montana, we pull together to find solutions," she said. "By working collaboratively to raise awareness and focus on prevention, we can make a difference for Montana’s children. Child abuse and neglect is never tolerated."
Jefferson School Principal Lona Carter-Scanlon said her students are eager to raise awareness about the prevention of child abuse and neglect in Montana.
"Our little people have big voices," Carter-Scanlon said. "They know that child abuse in Montana has to stop, and they want to help any way they can."
The students have also created blue pinwheel artwork that will be displayed in the Capitol through the end of April.
Pinwheels for Prevention is a national public awareness campaign built around the symbol of the pinwheel, which represents a happy and uplifting symbol of childhood and conveys the message that every child deserves the chance to be raised in a healthy, safe, and nurturing environment.
Hundreds of blue pinwheels have also been planted on the Capitol's front lawn by CTF and BCBSMT volunteers.
Miss Montana was on hand to offer her support for Montana children and families. She has been promoting her personal platform "Read It and Reap" which fosters education and relationships with youth through reading. She is partnering with the World Wide Book Drive to bring 15,000 books to the state of Montana for at-risk children without access to literature.
The event culminated with the BCBSMT donation to the CTF. Jamey Petersen of the CTF said the funding will go a long way toward increasing awareness of free prevention services and activities across Montana including parenting classes, respite care, services for children and families with disabilities, as well as, many other services.
"We want to ensure that every child has a great start," Petersen said. "Every child deserves a safe, stable, nurturing home leading to a happy, healthy childhood."
BCBSMT officials said they are thrilled to be partnering with the CTF.
"Nothing is more important to the future of our state than our children," BCBSMT President Mike Frank said. "We have to do all we can to keep our biggest asset — our children — safe and sound."
On average, the Department of Public Health and Human Services completes about 7,600 investigations of child abuse and neglect every year involving 11,000 children. Further, the number of children in foster care continues to climb. As of February 28, 2015 there were 2,417 Montana children in foster care, the highest number of kids in care over the past 15 years.
Petersen says year round the CTF encourages all individuals and organizations to play a role in making Montana a better place for children and families.
"By ensuring that parents have the knowledge, skills, and resources they need to care for their children, we can help foster stronger families in Montana," she said.